I've had it with creative interpretations of Caesar Salad. When I go out to eat and order a Caesar Salad, I'm seeking the classic romaine lettuce with croutons, Parmesan and Caesar dressing. Sometimes I ask for anchovies.
That's it. Fin. Period. The end.
No red onion. No cucumbers. No bacon bits. And certainly no tomatoes, deadly nightshades that they are.
There are some sectors of our society who are anti-globalization, people who believe one shouldn't be able to get McDonald's while in India or Starbucks in Tokyo. But, there are times when one seeks something familiar, something known, something comforting to the body or the mind. For example, when I order chocolate ice cream, I'm expecting something that vaguely resembles chocolate ice cream. Not chocolate ice cream with tomatoes in it. The same is true for a Caesar Salad. I want what I expect to receive when I order something with a fairly straightforward recipe.
I know the legend of the Caesar Salad is that it was born out of necessity in a restaurant kitchen at a time when a salad emergency was called for. But, if a restaurant is going to experiment then they should name the salad something else simply to give their customers a heads up that they don't serve the now classic Caesar. A Caesar with tomatoes? How about calling it a "Red Caesar?" A Caesar with carrots and red onions and bacon bits? Let's call it "Caesar Nouveau" or "Veggie Caesar." Please just warn me somehow, so I can adjust accordingly.
Let me also say, for the record, that the best Caesar Salad I ever had was at Skipjack's in downtown Boston more than 12 years ago. Seriously. I've never forgotten it.
The worst? At Triple Play Cafe in Cooperstown, NY. If you ever have a chicken Caesar craving while visiting the baseball hall of fame stay far far away from this hole in the wall restaurant almost directly across from the entrance to the museum. And, if you have a favorite place where you can get a Caesar Salad, please let me know about it!